Adams: A Little Help from His Friends

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Since transferring from New Mexico two years ago, Daniel Adams has been inching his way up the depth chart in hopes of getting the chance to be an impact player. Last fall, Adams switched from tight end to receiver because of injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. But it didn't translate into the kind of chance he wanted.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Since transferring from New Mexico two years ago, Daniel Adams has been inching his way up the depth chart in hopes of getting the chance to be an impact player. Last fall, Adams switched from tight end to receiver because of injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

But it didn't translate into the kind of chance he wanted.

So this this spring was going to be his chance with both stars still sidelined. For two weeks, Adams targeted the first big spring scrimmage, March 28 at Waldorf's North Point High School, to show his progress and hopefully turn some heads. All day prior to the hour and 20-minute bus trip, Long texted his former teammate Adams about having a big game.

And as the Terps were gearing up on the sidelines prior to the scrimmage, Long sat with Adams and gave him a pep talk.

"He just told me to go out and catch every pass," said Adams. "He told me to not worry about game-breaking plays but make all of the catches and it will all work out."

Adams led the Terps with four catches for 80 yards and best of all, he had no drops on a drop-filled night for the receiving corps in general.

"My goal was to be the leading receiver and I was," Adams said. "There aren't any games in the spring, so I had to point to the scrimmages as my time. I think I played well, even though the rest of the offense had problems and the receivers had a lot of drops."

The pattern for Adams in the past has been his own lack of consistency.

"Yeah, the coaches praised me for the scrimmage I had down there, but they also pointed out some of the things I did wrong," Adams said. "It's been that way all spring. I need to really just go out make the catches. It's simple, I just want to stop messing up and prove that I can be a good player here."

Having the confidence and the feeling of being settled is something that Adams hasn't experienced since his high school junior season at nearby Northwestern High School, when he caught 28 passes for 450 yards while scoring five touchdowns. He hasn't had that much productivity since. The fact is, Adams has yet to prove that he can be a finisher as drops, missed routes and blocks and other little things have slowed him.

The 11th best player in Maryland as a senior, Adams chose New Mexico where he played two games before injuries and then the transfer to Maryland kept him on the sidelines.

With two seasons of college eligibility left, Adams is eager to finally unpack his bags and get established at a position.

Since the move from the interior to split out, Adams says he dropped weight and feels better in his legs.

"I do feel a little faster and quicker right now," Adams said.

Adams had always been a wide-out, but in the transition from school to school the coaches thought his game translated more to end at College Park. But when Diggs and Long left the position in flux last fall, he made the switch.

"Things have gone pretty smooth going back to my real position," he said. "I mean, it's not been a problem except for being more precise on my routes and blocking and even my splits."

Although the staff graded out the scrimmage, receivers coach Keenan McCardell didn't share his score with Adams or anyone else.

"Collectively, our group didn't do too well so I guess coach didn't want us to hear grades or anything like that," Adams said. "My goal is always a 90 or better with no errors or missed assignments."

Adams also likes the fact that he's blocking in space now and not against the bigger bodies in the trenches.

"Sure, I'd much rather go against the little guys than those big guys trying to push me into the backfield," he quipped. "I think I'm handling that better than I did inside blocking." Seventeen years of experience in the NFL is what McCardell brings to the Terps receiving corps now.

"Coach brings a lot of fresh and new ideas to us," said Adams. "His main focus is to make all of us better at the little things. I think he's a guy that's lived the dream that we all want to have. I need to get in and talk with him a lot more and pick his brain."

McCardell's identity seems to be as a perfectionist, Adams said.

"If we have our hands wrong or maybe we need to be a foot more outside it's all a big deal to him. He won't settle for being close enough," he said. "It's either right or wrong and most of the time this spring we've been wrong. A dropped pass is the worst thing. I mean, he can't stand it. The way he says it's not that we dropped the pass. It's that we didn't do the right things to catch the football. I've never been around a coach that is that much into details."

McCardell's practice drills are fresh and new to the group as well.

"He's got new variations of the cone drills and things like that. We just don't run the same old things we used to," Adams said. "Almost every drill has contact in it from blocking dummies to his batting the ball away to everything. Coach brings a lot more aggressiveness to us than before."

It appears that the players that followed offensive coordinator Mike Locksley from New Mexico to Maryland are fitting in more and more. Between Long, safety Zach Dancel, Adams, who's second on the depth chart behind Amba Etta-Tawo, and then later this fall OL Larry Mazyck, there are a bunch.

"Deon is the top dog, and he's getting healthy and will be fully back soon," Adams said. "I think all three of us just want to contribute to winning. Zach is great at what he does and I'm just trying to catch up to those two."

Meanwhile, Long said after the April 2 practice that he is about 90 percent healthy.

"I think what he's doing now is amazing. I actually thought his injury was worse than Stefon's [Diggs], but he's coming back sooner. He seems like he's got that same old speed and looks like his old self," Adams said. "Not only did he motivate me for the scrimmage, he talks with me all of the time and is trying to help me keep my head up on the bad days. When I mess up he's there and when I make good plays he applauds me. He just wants us all to be good and he wants to win."

Adams said he spent the winter on the Jugs machine trying to fine-tune his catching ability. "I also worked on route running and spent hours and hours on the Jugs gun. I also got together with my high school quarterback and receivers in my spare time and caught his passes and was running routes. I spent this winter and during spring break doing that," he said.

When Diggs and long return in the fall, all of the receivers will have to step their games to keep stride, as it will be a crowded unit.

"I think we have a lot of talent and have the potential of being very dangerous. But we're not there yet. We have a long way to go. As long as we take care of business we'll be okay," he said.

"We're up and down but I think it's all about focus. We need to pay attention. We're not close but I think in the next week or so we can get closer."

Adams feels like he's finally home and comfortable. He spent spring break at home with his family and just working out. "I didn't need to go anywhere. I've got it all right here."

In the scrimmage at North Point, he showed glimpses of that on several long catches and runs. Adams looked like he belonged. Now, it just has to translate to the fall for the well-traveled former local prep star looking to finally find his own niche.

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